Crystal Lake to Mt. Islip & other Peaks7 1/4 miles round trip.
Elevation gain: 2,200 feet
Topo Map: Crystal Lake
This moderately strenuous trip is through beautiful forested areas, with several little springs. Watch for deer, squirrels and birds along the way, and enjoy the tremendous view from the top. You'll see desert, mountains and the valley all the way to the ocean, if the valley air is clear.
Follow Highway 39 twenty-five miles from Azusa to the Crystal Lake Recreation Area. You may leave your vehicle in the dirt parking lot in the upper part of the campground. A National Forest Adventure Pass is required for your vehicle while parked in this area unless you have paid to enter the Crystal Lake Recreation Area.
Begin your hike at the Windy Gap Trail sign at the north edge of the paved road above the parking lot. In less than a mile, you will come to another paved road leading to Deer Flats Group Campground. Continue across the road, and in three-fourths mile you will come to a dirt road. The trail continues across the road, slanting to the right. At this road crossing, a left turn down the road about 100 yards will bring you to Big Cienaga and a small clear, cold spring. (Water from the spring should be treated before using.) Look for flowers in the small hillside meadow above the spring.
Continuing up the trail, you will reach Windy Gap (a low spot on the ridge between Mt. Islip and Mt. Hawkins) two and one-half miles from the trailhead.
At this point you have several options. You can take the trail on the extreme left for 1 mile to the top of 8,250 foot Mt. Islip (pronounced eye-slip). If you choose the middle trail heading northwest from Windy Gap, you will pass just above Little Jimmy Spring, then Little Jimmy Campground (1/2 mile from the gap) a short distance beyond. Little Jimmy is a good place for overnight camping if you are a backpacker. Another trail to Mt. Islip begins at the upper western edge of Little Jimmy Campground.
For an alternate hike, take the trail to the right (the Pacific Crest Trail) at Windy Gap to Mt. Hawkins (about 2 miles) or continue on to Throop Peak, Mt. Burnham and Mt. Baden-Powell (6-1/2 miles from Windy Gap). Mt. Hawkins is off the trail, a steep hillside climb up to your right after you have gone 2 miles from Windy Gap and just before a saddle is reached. The top of Throop Peak is a short distance beyond, above the trail through low brush. Mt. Burnham is a small bump on the ridge about halfway from Throop to Baden-Powell. It, too, is just off the trail.
For a scenic loop trip from Windy Gap take the trail to the right to the saddle just west of Mt. Hawkins. A spur trail leading to South Mt. Hawkins begins at this point. Hike about 2 1/4 miles south to the junction of the South Mt. Hawkins Truck Trail. You may turn right and continue down the dirt road and rejoin the Windy Gap Trail or continue up the ridge to the South Mt. Hawkins Fire Lookout.
Mt. Hawkins and South Mt. Hawkins were named for Nellie Hawkins, a waitress who worked many years ago at Squirrel Inn below Crystal Lake where Coldbrook Campground is now located
Tom Chester & Jane Strong -- http://tchester.org/